How do you make work-related decisions? Do you fly by the seat of your pants and do what seems expedient at the moment? Do you go down the easiest path? the hardest one? Do you do what you think will get you the most attention, glory and upward mobility in the organization? Do you have some clear goals, objectives and strategy in mind by which you evaluate the pros and cons of options?
There are many processes and criteria people can use to make decisions at work. Some are more noble than others. Some are more effective than others. I’d like to share with you some thoughts about values-based decision-making that stems from some discussions and communications at my company about our corporate values.
Recently, five simple values were presented by senior leadership to all associates. To be more accurate, many associates at all levels were involved in the process that resulted in the set of values, but the final communication about them to everyone came, naturally, from top leadership. I’m very impressed by them, and especially by their clarity and simplicity:
- Inspire Health
- Cultivate Uniqueness
- Rethink Routine
- Pioneer Simplicity
- Thrive Together
Nearly all companies of any significant size have a variety of statements they tout from mission statements to purpose statements and value propositions and guiding principles and mottos and blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum. I never was able to figure out the difference in all of those types of statements. Too often they sounded like corporate-speak mumbo-jumbo that nobody outside the little cocooned offices that unveiled them really cared about. So it was with a slight bit of skepticism that I listened to and read communications from our leaders and others about newly defined values. Was this just the corporate-speak du jour spawned by a change in leadership, or was it more substantive than that?
I’m glad to say I think it’s substantive. Yes, promotion of the values is being championed by our new CEO, but he believes in them, speaks often and convincingly about them, practices them, and expects others to do so as well, all of which is very encouraging. The five values are simple, easy to remember and communicate, and something the average employee can buy into, keeping them in mind as we do our work and as we make decisions about what we do and how we do it.
For example, one cause I’m championing right now at work is opening up our internal social network to allow all employees to use the vendor’s excellent mobile apps on their personal mobile devices so that anyone can access the network simply, quickly, and effectively from anywhere, anytime, without losing any functionality they expect from the app. That isn’t possible currently because of security measures and access processes in place. Some clunky and inadequate workarounds make the current mobile experience so dreadful that nobody uses them. Consequently, leaders and others on the go rarely participate due in part to the lack of mobile access.
Looking at the five values above, I have to consider the “pioneer simplicity” value when looking at possible solutions to this matter. Do the current workarounds pioneer simplicity? No. They take complexity and user-unfriendliness to extremes.
What would happen if the stakeholders involved with coming up with a solution sat around a table with each of them buying into the idea of pioneering simplicity? I am confident we could reach a solution that meets the security needs of the enterprise while maintaining the simplicity, user-friendliness and full functionality demanded by those who use the internal social network. As we have future calls and meetings about the matter, you can rest assured that I will, if needed, respond to suggestions of complicated solutions with the legitimate question, “How does that mesh with the corporate value of pioneering simplicity?”
And that is where the beauty of having clear, simple corporate values can come into play for the average employee. If I challenge a complex solution, it isn’t because I’m being a grumpy old man or I have some personal vendetta against others involved. It is because I believe in the value of pioneering simplicity, and I think living and making decisions accordingly is in the best interests of the company, its employees, and ultimately its customers and stockholders.
As individuals, we have deeply-held personal values that are inseparable from decisions we make in our personal lives. Such values are what guide us day by day in decisions big and small. So why should we not also have a few simple, important values undergirding our business decisions? I think we should. I’m willing to adopt and promote the five values above as appropriate for my company. Your organization’s values will likely be different and in accordance with its unique purpose.
Do you know your organization’s values? Do you agree with them? Do you consider them when making decisions?